Bluetide Puerto Rico holds 1st conference to boost island’s ‘Blue Economy’
As part of “The BLUEtide Initiative,” one of eight strategic initiatives of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane María Disaster and Economic Recovery Plan, nonprofit organization Bluetide Puerto Rico, backed by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), is hosting an event inviting entrepreneurs to make the most out of the ocean waters.
The “Blue Economy” refers to local or recreational fishing, and other maritime opportunities such as transportation and shipping, technology, habitat restoration, hospitality, recreation and tourism, retail trade, the needle industry, insurance industry, mechanics and engineers, coastal resilience, coastal and beach cleanup, and companies involved in creating energy through ocean resources.
To help companies better understand the Blue Economy and how entrepreneurs can benefit, the entity has organized the Bluetide Caribbean Summit 2021, the first global summit dedicated to the sector slated for Aug. 4-6 at the El Conquistador Resort.
“Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have a unique opportunity to lead eco-responsible business innovations in the international market, export services, technology, products and knowledge in Blue Economy Solutions for the world,” said Juan Bauzá, Economic Development Representative for Puerto Rico and the USVI at the EDA.
Puerto Rico has 44 coastal towns, not all of which are taking advantage of what the oceans offer to improve their economic development strategies, Bauzá said.
“The sea is a territorial extension capable of offering us food, energy and economic development,” said Guifre Tort, interim executive director of Bluetide Puerto Rico Inc.
“We want to help companies understand that the ocean is more than a geographical edge and can be a great business opportunity for them,” he said.
Bluetide will work hand in hand with the EDA to expand the region’s maritime opportunities, after receiving $9 million to work on developing the Blue Economy in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, he said.
The entity uses the funds to buy equipment and develop professional training programs aimed at the sustainable use of ocean resources, to create jobs and generate economic growth, while preserving the health of ecosystems, Tort said.
“Our mission with the Bluetide Caribbean Summit is for local entrepreneurs to better understand the importance of their role in this effort and at the same time be able to achieve greater growth in their industries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bauza said the summit will serve as the presentation of the US Caribbean Strategic Implementation Plan prepared by Tetra Tech. This is an opportunity for a wide range of companies to not only learn about the Blue Economy, but also to discover new niches in this emerging economy, he said.
“When you live on an island, everything depends on the health, maturity, strength and resilience of the Blue Economy, from importing goods to basic food security,” he said.
“So, this conference aims to educate and provide networking opportunities with international experts in the field, to open a space for dialogue about what is currently being done internationally, and the opportunities available through federal resources to innovate, and how Bluetide Puerto Rico with its teams and assets that can support and facilitate these economic growth opportunities,” Bauzá said.
The Bluetide Caribbean summit will feature more than 35 participants from the private and government sectors who will share their knowledge to help strengthen the marine and maritime activities of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The event will feature talks, work sessions and workshops.
“What makes this summit unique is that it’s completely focused on opportunities for the private sector and companies of all types and levels of capacity. It isn’t addressed to only to researchers or academics, as ocean conferences usually are,” said Bauzá.
“The EDA’s goal, in combination with Bluetide Puerto Rico, is to help companies gain a competitive advantage to grow and export through the services they can receive, thanks to federal funds earmarked for this purpose, and through our marine ecosystem by providing them with the tools and contacts they need to optimize this dynamic and environmentally responsible concept,” said Bauzá.
The agenda for the summit is available on its website.